Susan Cagle
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Susan Cagle

New York City, New York, United States

New York City, New York, United States
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Still working on that hot first release.

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Susan Cagle

Spend enough time riding the rails in New York City's subways and you'll stumble across scores of guitarists and vocalists, drummers and flutists, violinists and saxophonists. Some better (or much better) than others, they head underground to make their living or just to play or often both. Every once in a great while you catch a busker whose songs and singing are clearly better than the subway, who whether they know it or not yet is about to catch the ear of an unsuspecting record exec, and be hoisted out of the gritty underworld and dropped into a recording studio.
Susan Cagle is one such performer. Yet, Susan wasn't unsuspecting. If anything, she has long resisted her eventual ascent to the proverbial next level but more on that later. For the past few years, the singer/songwriter/guitarist has been on the cusp of a breakout and her transition from subway platform to stage and studio begins with The Subway Recordings, an impossibly hooky full-length live CD which marks Susan's debut release for Lefthook/Columbia. With songs assembled from two distinct live performances--one in NYC's famed Times Square station and the other in the subway beneath Grand Central--the rootsy, heartfelt disc showcases Susan's voice in its purest form.
Since 2001, Susan has been a fixture on the Gotham subway circuit, attracting large crowds and selling over 30,000 self-issued homemade CDs at such regular spots like Union Square, Grand Central and Times Square stations. And, it was actually in the Herald Square subway station at 34th Street where she was discovered by Jay Levine (Lefthook Entertainment) and shortly after, became Steve Greenberg's first signing as President of Columbia Records.
"I dont know how it is for other people when they get signed and start doing things professionally," says Susan. "But for me, the fact that I got a deal is so dramatic and so big, because I had such an unusual upbringing and story."
Growing up, Susan traveled the world as a child, learning to sing and play music while barely out of the crib. Raised in a family of musicians who performed together on street corners and in subway stations, Susan (the second oldest of ten brothers and sisters) began taking solos before she was four years old and she picked up the guitar at age seven.
By the time she was fourteen, she had lived in Venezuela, Mexico, Greece, Italy, France, Germany, England, Scotland, Ireland and all across the United States from California to up and down the East Coast and had traveled as far west as Hawaii and as far east as communist-era Czechoslovakia. She started writing poetry and listening to the likes of Lauryn Hill, The Cranberries and Sheryl Crow.
Setting her sights on New York, where she had a few friends from a previous visit to the city, a scared but excited Susan arrived just weeks before the terrororist attacks of 9/11. "The whole feeling of New York just changed," says Susan. "It felt like no one, including me, wanted to make music anymore. But then one day I thought, I'll just go out and play, for myself, for my own sanity and to do something happy just to see if some people would respond to the music."
Tentative at first having never before performed solo, and unsure how she would be received her fears subsided immediately: "It was just so amazing. Sometimes I would play late at night where people would be grouped together waiting for trains going in different directions on the same platform and I would get a huge crowd. And you could feel it. I felt like I was singing just for them. I felt like I was able to touch them in some way through my music."
Remembering his first encounter with Susan, Levine says, "I had a gut feeling that rarely comes that this was something. I had to throw 100% of my energy into. She was a diamond in a pile of rocks, something beautiful and true shining out in the dirty station, hypnotizing everyone who passed. She was real, raw, unpretentious; she had urban soul with a heartland accessibility and a stunning voice." The Subway Recordings introduces Susan to the world at large with sweet songs filled with love and loneliness. The catchy Shakespeare is based on her penchant for asking a potential Mr. Right if they like Shakespeare. "What better test is there to see if theres something worth getting to know under that hot exterior?" says Susan. Meanwhile, a lonely Susan got the idea for Be Here, in which she sings to an imaginary lover, while playing at the 59th Street and Columbus Avenue platform one night. And the Afro/Celtic rhythms and soaring melody of Dream which was written on a rooftop in Williamsburg one summer night.
"Doing this right now, at this levelit means that after all the years, and all the struggling, and everything Ive been through, it was all worth it because now I can take what I've learned playing in the subways and translate that into my performances onstage and in the studio. I want people to be encouraged by my story, and know t